Sunday, September 18, 2011

Obsessed v. Crazy Groups

The public library freebie magazine rack had the March/April issue of The Home School Court Report. I snatched it.

It and the organization, Home School Legal Defense Association, are dreadfully sincere and single-issue passionate. On the other hand, this looks like a healthy contrast to the loonies in broader parents'-rights groups.  Both sorts see themselves as victims on intrusive government. Both turn to dedicated lawyers to cajole, threaten or sue for what they demand.

Huge differences are:

  • From the HSLDA site and magazine, their members actually are persecuted and need protection, state by state and school district by school district.
  • Home schoolers don't want whole new rules and procedures, just fair administration of existing laws and regulations.
  • Home schoolers don't claim Biblical authority.
  • I see no evidence that home schooler parents lie baldly, as Mad Dad and his ilk have for so long. 
  • Home schoolers are not asking for wild legal exemptions, like the right to beat their children at will.

The short of it is that home schooling is rare enough that many government agencies and education bodies have not adapted. Cops pick up home-school kids on field trips and education tasks, arresting them as truants. Parents who follow the rules (lesson plans, testing, transcripts and so forth) still get threatened with jail and fines for neglecting their children — despite being on the right side of the laws. Some school districts even try to legislate their own requirements in violation of existing state laws.

So, the HSLDA is there with a vengeance. Flying down like Nemesis to provide retribution and right wrongs, the group's lawyers do what's necessary to straight out confused, ignorant or malicious school or government types. From reading the magazine, I think they do a damned good job of it. Certainly if I home schooled my kids, I'd belong to HSLDA.

A fleeting thought would be how nice if the parents' rights types learned how it was done from the home school ones. Alas, the parents' rights folk are not about playing by the rules, or even about honesty and honor. They demand rights that they define, rights that do not and should not exist. They want everyone else to bend to them and change the entire system to suit their emotional needs.

I do know a home school family. Their kids are well educated, measurably so. They played by the rules in California and now in Massachusetts. They aren't loud long-suffering victims, just folk who are convinced they provide a better education for their own than public schools. Their children get or will get equivalent high school diplomas and are in or headed for accredited colleges.

There's the parallel track and then there's off the rails.

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